Bencic stuns last year's finalist Venus at Australian Open

Serving could be the key factor for Williams in this encounter

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko made a positive start in her attempt to win a second Grand Slam singles title when she beat veteran Francesca Schiavone 6-1, 6-4 in a first-round match at the Australian Open. They were nearly twice as old as their opponents, Bencic and Jelena Ostapenko, who are both 20, and both were made to look inadequate.

It was a stunning turn-around from last year's US Open when the host nation provided all four women's semi-finalists - Stephens, Madison Keys, Venus Williams and Vandeweghe - the first time that had happened in 36 years.

"Tennis is definitely a roller coaster".

Asked about losing eight straight matches since the US Open, the American responded::"I wouldn't call them tough times. It will be OK". All three made the semifinals in NY.

And men's eighth seed Jack Sock, a semifinalist at the year-end Tour Finals in London in November, tumbled at the hands of Japan's Yuichi Sugita 6-1 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-3.

Yet watching Williams go one-and-done leaves tennis fans scratching their heads, especially considering where she was a year ago when she, at 36, became the oldest women's Grand Slam finalist in the Open era.

"I don't think I played a bad match", she said. "I just have to give her credit".

Arguably, perhaps - Williams was the No 5 seed and runner-up last year and Bencic is ranked 76 (and was on the wrong side of 300 at one stage last year) and was a first-round loser 12 months ago. "I don't think I played a bad match", said Venus after a slam was left without a Williams sister in the second round for the first time since the 2011 French Open.

Bencic, 20, said featuring with Federer at the Hopman Cup had helped a lot, with the Swiss legend giving her advice and tips. Federer's parents watched her match here from her player box. "But of course, it would be nice to play somebody easier (in the) first round and get your rhythm a little bit".

"I feel that I had a good week-and-a-half of practices".




Bencic, who lost to Serena in straights sets at the same stage previous year, said when she saw the draw she was prepared for another tough opener.

"How are they not on court?"

Vandeweghe received a code violation from chair umpire Fergus Murphy, as she wasn't ready to take to the court because she was eating a banana. "That's not my fault".

"I'm healthy. I have the opportunity to play here". I don't have to make myself uncomfortable because it's ill-prepared.

The world No 9, who refused to continue playing at the end of the first set until she was provided with the bananas, was penalised again and docked a point in the second set after apparently swearing at Babos because she felt the Hungarian had been "in her face". It set the tone for a fine 2017 season, even if the evergreen Williams lost to younger sister Serena in the final.

Other players orchestrating upsets on Day 1 in Melbourne were Estonia's Kaia Kanepi rolling over No. 24 Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2, the Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk likewise easing past No. 25 Peng Shuai 6-2, 6-2, and Romania's Irina Camelia-Begu outlasting No. 31 Ekaterina Makarova 3-6, 6-4, 8-6.

Elsewhere, Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios all eased to comfortable first-round victories.

He has the late match on Hisense Arena, against Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva.

Caroline Wozniacki, the world No 2, also made a confident start. After receiving a first-round bye last week at Sydney, she fell to eventual champion Angelique Kerber of Germany in three sets.

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